Gerard Lubaton, Little Whispers

Let’s Celebrate

FIRST READING
1 Jn 2:29-3:6

If you consider that God is righteous,
you also know that everyone who acts in righteousness
is begotten by him.

See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure,
as he is pure.

Everyone who commits sin commits lawlessness,
for sin is lawlessness.
You know that he was revealed to take away sins,
and in him there is no sin.
No one who remains in him sins;
no one who sins has seen him or known him.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 98:1, 3cd-4, 5-6
R. (3cd) All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.

Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
Sing praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the LORD.
R. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.

Gospel
Jn 1:29-34

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
He is the one of whom I said,
‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’
I did not know him,
but the reason why I came baptizing with water
was that he might be made known to Israel.”
John testified further, saying,
“I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky
and remain upon him.
I did not know him,
but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,
‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”
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REFLECTION
“Behold, we are God’s children now”

Through out grade school until college, I had encountered the topic of baptism in class. Over and over again, I got the same message and I learned the same things, but still, the reminder of this sacrament remained powerful.

During our own baptism, as innocent as we were, we were already blessed with the Holy Spirit through the pouring of Chrism, as we were welcomed to the Christian world. This strengthened our being as children of god and through this rite, our original sin was washed away. Knowing this, every time I would attend a baptism, I come to appreciate the sacrament not just as a mere ceremony anymore, but as a celebration of what it is like to be called children of God. And you know what? Even though how sinful we become, we can never change the fact that we are His and our names are written at the palm of His hand.

That is how special we are! Never forget that. -Ge Lubaton. YLSS#22

Prayer:
Dear Lord, I thank you for the gift of my baptism. As your child, I will do my best to follow your teachings. May Your life be an inspiration to me to live a better Christian life. This I pray. AMEN.

Gerard Lubaton, Little Whispers

Open Your Eyes of Faith

FIRST READING
1 Jn 1:1-4

Beloved:
What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we looked upon
and touched with our hands
concerns the Word of life ?
for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us?
what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you,
so that you too may have fellowship with us;
for our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12
R. (12) Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many isles be glad.
Clouds and darkness are around him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the LORD of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
Light dawns for the just;
and gladness, for the upright of heart.
Be glad in the LORD, you just,
and give thanks to his holy name.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

Gospel
Jn 20:1a And 2-8

On the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we do not know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
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REFLECTION
“..he saw and believed.” -Jn 20:8

“To see is to believe.”

I love watching horror movies. Who doesn’t like a good scare? I mean, Shake, Rattle and Roll anthology, Sukob, Feng Shui, Coming Soon, The Ring, The Eye and The Grudge. Come on, who hasn’t watched any of these movies? And even the November Specials of Magandang Gabi Bayan were very much anticipated. (It’s Christmas and I’m talking about horror movies! Haha!)

I find it very thrilling to watch these movies and when nightfall comes, All I want is to sleep beside my mother! Sissy, right?

Kidding aside, with my fondness for ghost stories and movies, I grew up thinking that, “To see is to believe”. I won’t believe anything unless I see it or experience it.

That all changed when I entered a personal relationship with the Lord. I learned to open my heart, to open my mind to the teachings of Christ, to know what it means to serve the Lord, to understand why trials are coming in my life, and to feel what it is like to live in God’s presence.

And with this, my eyes of faith were opened. I believe in the Lord. I believe in God’s unconditional love. I believe in the Salvation He is offering to us. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit and I believed in the transformation He is promising when we accept Him as our personal Lord and Savior.

The Good News invites us to believe in the Son; that He came down to save us from our sins and that there is a glorious life even after death. The Glory of God has already been revealed through us during this season.

Jesus Christ, Emmanuel and the Messiah is born!

We are called to testify and proclaim this Good News! Let us be heralds of our Lord and tell the world: “To believe is to truly see!”

Have an explosive last week of 2011! -God’s true believer, Ge Lubaton. YLSS#22

Prayer:
Lord, as I deepen my personal relationship with you, may you open the eyes of my heart. I pray that I will be your instrument and will try my best to use my life as a testimony to other people of your mighty deeds! In faith I pray, Amen.

Gerard Lubaton, Little Whispers

Ain’t No Mountain High!

FIRST READING
Is 7:10-14

The LORD spoke to Ahaz:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary men,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 24:1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6
R. Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.

The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.

Gospel
Lk 1:26-38

In the sixth month,
the angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

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REFLECTION
“…for nothing will be impossible for God.” -Luke 1:37
“May it be done to me according to Your word.” -Luke 1:38

“Impossible is nothing”.
That was once the campaign catch phrase of Adidas with David Beckham as their poster boy.

I believe that he was chosen to be the model of that campaign because of his life story. His soccer teacher once told him, “You’ll never play for England, because you are too small and not strong enough.

Well, look at him now and what he has achieved!

Impossible is nothing. I truly believe in this phrase. But it would be better to say it in faith that, “Impossible is nothing with God.” Right?

It is said in Philippians 4:13,
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

This is one of my life verses. And I recommend that you make it yours too. This verse is so powerful that if you truly believe in your heart that the Lord is the one who gives you strength, you can move any mountain anytime. Your mountain could be a problem or trial with your family, friends, work, school and even yourself.

The biggest mountain that my family and I had to conquer was papa’s sickness and his continuous degeneration and eventually his death. It lasted for 8 years. But it’s all in the past now. We have conquered those mountains with the help of the Mighty Hand of God.

Today, as Mary has said “Yes” to be the mother of Jesus, the Word invites us to say yes to His call to service. Whatever call it may be, believe that God’s favor is with you. He will bring you to greater heights in your journey with Him.

Advanced Merry Christmas! -Mountain Conqueror, Ge Lubaton. YLSS#22

Prayer:
Dear Lord, my Mighty Overcomer, may I always find strength renewed in you during desperate times. I will say yes to Your call and forever will I trust in Your plans. This I pray, Amen.

Gerard Lubaton, Little Whispers

It’s Free for All

FIRST READING
Zep 3:1-2, 9-13

Thus says the LORD:
Woe to the city, rebellious and polluted,
to the tyrannical city!
She hears no voice,
accepts no correction;
In the LORD she has not trusted,
to her God she has not drawn near.

For then I will change and purify
the lips of the peoples,
That they all may call upon the name of the LORD,
to serve him with one accord;
From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia
and as far as the recesses of the North,
they shall bring me offerings.

On that day
You need not be ashamed
of all your deeds,
your rebellious actions against me;
For then will I remove from your midst
the proud braggarts,
And you shall no longer exalt yourself
on my holy mountain.
But I will leave as a remnant in your midst
a people humble and lowly,
Who shall take refuge in the name of the LORD:
the remnant of Israel.
They shall do no wrong
and speak no lies;
Nor shall there be found in their mouths
a deceitful tongue;
They shall pasture and couch their flocks
with none to disturb them.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 34:2-3, 6-7, 17-18, 19 And 23
R. (7a) The Lord hears the cry of the poor.

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
The LORD redeems the lives of his servants;
no one incurs guilt who takes refuge in him.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.

Gospel
Mt 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’
The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’
but afterwards he changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go.
Which of the two did his father’s will?”
They answered, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the Kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.”
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REFLECTION
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.” -Ps 34:19

On a rainy Friday night, while a boy was eating his dinner in a rush as he was supposed to go to a party, his cell phone suddenly rang.

When he answered the phone, he heard a very frantic voice from the other line.

It was his brother calling, saying that their father was rushed to the hospital and that he might be on his last hours already. His brother told him to go to the hospital immediately.

After ending the call, the boy was stunned. Stupefied. Speechless.

When he got to the hospital room, it felt like he was transported to a hardcore teleserye or drama movie. It was a total mess.

The boy rushed to her mother, hugged her tight and started to pray the rosary.

I was that boy. I can still remember how painful those moments were. But as I felt deep grief while watching papa’s life fade away, I realized I needed comfort. My mother and family needed comfort amidst the sorrow. So I turned to God to pray. That was the only way to keep us from breaking down.

It has been 3 years. The wounds have been healed through God’s grace. Papa’s memories still live on and we continue to pray for his soul. As a family that is a household of faith, we turned to God for consolation, peace and rest. We believed that the only way that we can be fully healed from that painful stage of our life was through asking for God’s restoration and so we took our Family Encounter. Each step of the way, our hurts and pains from Papa’s death and past memories were melted away from our hearts.

Truly, the Lord offers his warm embrace to those who needs and longs for it. My friend, I pray that you may experience Jesus’ POWER HUG today. It’s free for all. -God’s comforted, Ge Lubaton. YLSS#22

Prayer:
My Lord, My healer and restorer, continue to heal my heart from any hurts and pain that I may have experienced. May I always feel your presence today. Hold me and never let me go. Amen.

Gerard Lubaton, Little Whispers

Black to Back

FIRST READING
1 Is 40:1-11

Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated;
Indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD double for all her sins.

A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low;
The rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

A voice says, “Cry out!”
I answer, “What shall I cry out?”
“All flesh is grass, and all their glory like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower wilts, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it.
So then, the people is the grass. Though the grass withers and the flower wilts,
the word of our God stands forever.”

Go up onto a high mountain, Zion, herald of glad tidings;
Cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God! Here comes with power the Lord GOD, who rules by his strong arm;
Here is his reward with him, his recompense before him.
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 96:1-2, 3 And 10ac, 11-12, 13
R. (Isaiah 40:10ab) The Lord our God comes with power.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name;
announce his salvation, day after day.
R. The Lord our God comes with power.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
Say among the nations: The LORD is king;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. The Lord our God comes with power.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then let all the trees of the forest rejoice.
R. The Lord our God comes with power.
They shall exult before the LORD, for he comes;
for he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.
R. The Lord our God comes with power.

Gospel
Mt 18:12-14

Jesus said to his disciples:
“What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.”
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REFLECTION
“…it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” -Matthew 18:12–14

I was a backslider. Yes, you read it correctly. During my time in the Youth Ministry, I backslided many times. From this point in my reflection, let’s call backsliding, “that black stage”. Okay?

I was the sheep that kept on getting lost.

You know the feeling of being lost, right? It’s very scary because you don’t know where to go.
You don’t have a sense of direction and you feel that you’re falling into a spiral every time.

The first time I fell into the black stage is still very clear in my memory.
First times are always unforgettable.

This happened after I served my First YLSS as a registration ministry member.
My excuse: I got “busy” in school.

I was in my 2nd year in high school and this was the time I drank my first hard drinks. I was very frequent in pool parties, movie marathons and just plain “tambay” with my friends.

You may think, oh this is just very normal for a teenager to discover the world of vices; after all, Experience is the best teacher, right?

But no, as a teenager who has just started a lifelong journey with the Lord, I thought to myself, “this can’t be right.”

I couldn’t resist. I still kept on entering that black stage of my life, I got drunk and was addicted to my vices. But then again, when the Lord finds and calls You back, you can never go wrong in answering His call. He takes you in and puts you in His arms, making sure that you will never get lost again. And before I knew it, I was serving in the Youth Ministry again as an intercessor.

Fast-forward eight years later, I am still serving the Lord not only in BLD but in another community as well.

Though I fell many times, the Lord allowed me to I gain wisdom from everything that I experienced.

So whenever you feel like the sheep that keeps on getting lost, just make sure to listen and hear His invitation to come back to Him. –Ex-Backslider turned Frontliner, Ge Lubaton. YLSS#22

Prayer:
Dearest Lord, You are my shepherd. Lead me wherever you want me to go. With Your Word as my staff, I shall follow you all the days of my life. Amen.

All My Life – Parachute Band